The Dodgers have recalled outfielder Alex Verdugo from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned left-handed reliever Scott Alexander to OKC, per a team announcement. This may only be a short-term move by LA, which is dealing with an injury to Yasiel Puig and needed another outfielder for the second half of its doubleheader Saturday in San Francisco.
The 21-year-old Verdugo will play right field and bat second Saturday night for the Dodgers, who took a 15-6 decision over the Giants earlier in the day. Puig departed that game with a potential foot issue and will undergo X-rays, opening up room for Verdugo to come off the Dodgers’ taxi squad.
This isn’t the first major league action for Verdugo, a second-round pick in 2014 who debuted in the league last year and struggled over a small sample size of 25 plate appearances (174/.240/.304). He was far better during his initial taste of Triple-A action, hitting .314/.389/.436 (118 wRC+) in 495 PAs to further bolster his status as a high-end farmhand. The lefty-swinger ranks as MLB.com’s second-best Dodgers prospect, trailing starter Walker Buehler (who was on the hill for his first career win in Game 1 on Saturday), and the outlet’s 32nd overall prospect in the sport.
While Verdugo hasn’t dominated of the gates in 2018, evidenced by a .276/.309/.474 (98 wRC+) line in 81 PAs, he could still emerge as a long-term piece for the Dodgers soon. Of course, if Puig avoids a long absence, Verdugo may quickly head back to the minors. Both Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor have performed poorly this year, though each player likely has a long leash, and the Dodgers have benefited from the unexpected excellence of much-maligned corner outfielder Matt Kemp thus far.
Alexander has been anything but excellent, meanwhile, despite being one of the Dodgers’ top offseason acquisitions in a fairly low-key winter for the team. He joined the reigning NL pennant winners in a three-team trade after serving as an important member of the Royals’ bullpen last year. Alexander recorded a staggering 73.8 percent groundball rate en route to a 2.48 ERA over 69 innings, though both figures have trended in the wrong direction in 2018. In his first action with the Dodgers, the 28-year-old has posted a 6.35 ERA and a 57.1 percent grounder rate in 11 1/3 frames, to go with more walks (nine) than strikeouts (seven).